WASHINGTON — Southern Californians stand to lose hundreds of million of dollars in federal assistance for mass transit and for newly legalized immigrants and refugees under President Bush's $1.23-trillion budget released on Monday.
Cutbacks in spending also threaten the closure of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard and the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo and promise further delays in modernizing the outmoded air traffic control center in Orange County.
The budget proposal calls for the Southern California Rapid Transit District to receive none of its current $48.8 million in federal operating subsidies. The President proposes to eliminate mass transit operating assistance for urban areas with populations of more than 1 million.
"If this were to be approved, we would be faced with possibly having to raise our fares by 30 cents," RTD General Manager Alan F. Tegg said.
But the fiscal 1991 spending plan also contains pluses: $285 million for Metro Rail construction in Los Angeles, $65 million for a massive Santa Ana River flood control project for Orange County and $15.7 million for a water-treatment plant for San Diego County's pollution-threatened border region.
Also on the plus side, there is $67.2 million listed for seismic upgrading and renovation of two buildings at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Long Beach and $24.9 million for new family housing at the Long Beach Naval Station.
Another $11.5 million is earmarked for parkland acquisition in the Santa Monica Recreational Area, slightly less than the $12 million Congress appropriated last year but considerably less than the $20 million to $30 million park proponents say they will seek.
Los Angeles County also stands to benefit from modest increases in funds to combat drug trafficking, assist first-time home buyers and improve airport safety. Conversely, proposed reductions in community development and job training funds would adversely affect Los Angeles.
Overall, the President's budget appears to be less hostile to city and county programs and services than were former President Ronald Reagan's spending blueprints, lobbyists said Monday.
In any case, the Bush budget represents only the opening salvo in a months-long process that culminates with Congress passing spending bills that will likely vary dramatically from the President's proposals.
Grants to help new legal immigrants obtain permanent U.S. residency under the 1986 immigration reform bill are certain to be one battleground. California receives 58% of the national total for State Legalization Impact Assistance Grants; Los Angeles County alone gets 25% of the national expenditures.
Under the sweeping 1986 bill, $1 billion was to be appropriated annually between 1987 and 1991 for English and citizenship classes and reimbursement to states and counties for health and welfare costs.
But Bush's budget proposes only $301 million for 1991. That would leave a shortfall of $320 million that the state might have to pick up, and approximately $100 million for Los Angeles County, said Mark Tajima, a Los Angeles County legislative analyst.
The SLIAG program has been running a surplus, making it a tempting target for Congress as well as successive Republican administrations. Its proponents say that it has been slow in gearing up, but that the money will be needed. Nevertheless, Congress cut the 1990 appropriation by $555 million.
Refugee resettlement funds in Bush's budget remain at $368.8 million, the same amount that was appropriated for this year. That, too, is bad news for Los Angeles County, Tajima said, because it fails to make up for a $50-million cut in the current budget year.
Of the 92,957 refugees in the United States who are eligible for federal assistance, California is home to 56,859, or 61%. Tajima said that the cost shift to the state would be near $100 million in welfare assistance alone, without including added medical expenses.
In other budget proposals, although the Long Beach Naval Shipyard is targeted for possible closure, Bush's budget includes $500,000 for asbestos removal at the shipyard. The shipyard is the city's second-largest employer.
Also cited for closure is the Los Angeles Air Force Base, which develops satellite communications and navigation and launching systems. Its 1,791 military and 1,650 civilian personnel would be reduced by 133 and 228, respectively, in 1991 under Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's proposal. The Air Force hopes to move most of those workers north to Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc.
Edwards Air Force Base, the nation's pre-eminent aircraft test and research site, is targeted to lose 167 military personnel and 250 civilian Defense Department employees in the next year.
In Orange County, the most significant item in the Bush budget is money for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to push the long-delayed Santa Ana River project into its construction phase, officials said.